In the dynamic realm of propane, oil, and gas businesses, effective leadership is vital for smooth operations, growth opportunities, and family business succession planning options, especially when the owner isn’t present. Consider a case study example to help you identify if your business is suffering from a hub-and-spoke management culture and learn actionable steps to address the issue with positive outcomes.

Case Study: Identifying and Addressing Hub-and-Spoke Management in a Propane Family Business

Identifying the Issue:

ABC Propane Company, a family-owned business, has been experiencing growth over the years. However, with this growth came challenges in operational efficiency and decision-making. The owner, Mr. Smith, was central to all communication and decision-making processes. Despite having capable employees, everything relied on him, leading to delays, limited growth, and strained employee empowerment.

Negative Impact of Hub-and-Spoke Management:

  1. Poor Business Performance: Due to the centralized decision-making structure, ABC Propane Company suffered from missed opportunities and slow response times. Critical decisions were often delayed, leading to missed business opportunities and lost revenue.
  2. Frustrated Employees: Employees felt disengaged and frustrated due to their lack of autonomy and empowerment. They could not utilize their skills and expertise effectively, leading to feelings of underappreciation and stagnation.
  3. High Turnover Rates: The negative impact of the hub-and-spoke management style was evident in the high turnover rates at ABC Propane Company. Talented employees grew frustrated with the lack of growth opportunities and the stifling work environment, leading them to seek employment elsewhere.
  4. Concerns About Family Business Succession Options: Mr. Smith had concerns about succession options for the family business. Key leaders seemed uninterested in taking on further commitments because they felt untrusted. At the same time, family members were uninterested due to their perception of Mr. Smith as a control freak and their doubts about the business’s promising future. This lack of interest and trust in succession planning posed a significant challenge to the long-term sustainability of the business.

Actionable Steps Taken:

  1. Assessment of Current State: Mr. Smith, overwhelmed and frustrated by the company’s performance and concerned about family business succession options, resourced a third-party succession planning company to identify the key issues impacting the growth and succession goals of the family business.
  2. Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses: Through one-on-one discussions with family members, Mr. Smith, and critical organization leaders, strengths and weaknesses were identified among team members. It became evident the leadership team and employees were underutilized due to the centralized decision-making structure.
  3. Training and Skill Enhancement: To empower employees, Mr. Smith invested in training programs tailored to their roles, enhancing their skills and confidence.
  4. Delegation and Ownership: Clear expectations were set, and tasks were delegated based on individual strengths. Employees were encouraged to take ownership of their responsibilities, empowering them to make decisions within their areas of expertise.
  5. Implementing a Feedback System: An open feedback loop was established, providing regular opportunities for employees to share insights and suggestions for improvement.
  6. Encouraging Initiative: A culture of initiative was fostered, where employees were encouraged to propose innovative solutions and take proactive steps to address challenges.

Positive Outcomes:

As a result of these actionable steps, ABC Propane Company witnessed significant improvements in its performance, growth, and succession planning options:

  1. Streamlined Decision-Making: With decentralized decision-making, Mr. Smith no longer served as the bottleneck for critical decisions. Employees felt empowered to make decisions, leading to faster response times and improved efficiency.
  2. Enhanced Employee Engagement: Employees reported higher satisfaction and engagement, feeling valued and recognized for their contributions. This led to reduced turnover rates and increased productivity.
  3. Sustained Growth: With a more empowered and skilled workforce, ABC Propane Company was able to sustain its growth trajectory. The business expanded its market presence and increased profitability while maintaining operational excellence.
  4. Impact on Growth Opportunities and Succession Planning: The hub-and-spoke management style not only hindered growth opportunities but also limited succession planning options. By breaking away from this approach, ABC Propane Company opened up avenues for future growth and succession planning, ensuring a smooth transition for the continuity of the family business.

Identifying & Overcoming Hub-and-Spoke Management: A Guide for Leaders in Family Businesses

If you resonate with the challenges faced by ABC Propane Company in our case study, you might be grappling with a hub-and-spoke management culture. Here’s how you can identify and address this issue to become a more effective leader and enhance your family business succession planning options:

Signs of Hub-and-Spoke Management:

  1. Centralized Decision-Making: Are all decisions routed through you, causing delays and missed opportunities?
  2. Employee Frustration: Do your employees seem disengaged or underutilized, lacking autonomy and growth opportunities?
  3. High Turnover Rates: Are you experiencing a higher-than-average turnover rate, especially among talented employees seeking better prospects?
  4. Limited Family Business Options: Is there a lack of interest from family members in working for or owning the business due to a poor culture? Are key leaders becoming frustrated and considering leaving, impacting the business’s value and succession options?

Actionable Steps for Improvement:

  1. Assess Your Current State: Conduct a thorough assessment of your business operations, focusing on communication channels, decision-making processes, and employee empowerment levels.
  2. Identify Strengths and Weaknesses: Engage with your team through surveys and discussions to identify areas where employees are underutilized or lack autonomy.
  3. Invest in Training and Skill Enhancement: Provide training programs tailored to your team’s roles to enhance their skills and confidence.
  4. Delegate and Empower: Set clear expectations and delegate tasks based on individual strengths, empowering employees to take ownership of their responsibilities.
  5. Establish a Feedback System: Create an open feedback loop to encourage regular communication and suggestions for improvement from your team.
  6. Encourage Initiative: Foster a culture where employees feel comfortable proposing innovative solutions and proactively addressing challenges.

Positive Outcomes Await:

By implementing these actionable steps, you can expect to see significant improvements in your business operations:

  1. Streamlined Decision-Making: Decentralized decision-making will empower your team to make decisions, leading to faster response times and improved efficiency.
  2. Enhanced Employee Engagement: Empowered employees will feel valued and recognized, resulting in higher levels of satisfaction and reduced turnover rates.
  3. Sustained Growth: With a more empowered and skilled workforce, your business will be poised for sustained growth and increased profitability.
  4. Expanded Family Business Options: By fostering a positive culture and empowering key leaders, you can create opportunities for family members and key personnel to become interested in taking on more responsibility and commitment, expanding options for business transition, succession, and selling.

Don’t let a hub-and-spoke management culture hinder your business’s growth potential and succession planning options. Take proactive steps to empower your team and pave the way for long-term success in the competitive propane, oil, and gas industry.

How We Help You:

Are you struggling with the challenges of hub-and-spoke management in your propane, oil, or gas business? Are centralized decision-making processes causing delays, employee frustration, high turnover rates, or hindering your family business succession planning options? If so, we understand the complexities you’re facing.

Contact us today, and let us help you navigate through these challenges. Our team specializes in identifying and addressing management culture issues like hub-and-spoke dynamics. We offer insights, resources, and tailored solutions to suit your specific needs. Even just a 30-minute consultation with us could provide you with actionable ideas to immediately improve your business.

Don’t let these obstacles hold your business back. Reach out to us now, and let’s work together to unlock your business’s full potential and ensure its long-term success in the competitive propane, oil, and gas industry.



Management Synergy and Teamwork

Management’s capacity to work together and unite towards a common purpose, vision, and goals impacts an organization’s resources. Teamwork is not a natural behavior, but it can be taught and can result in a high-performing culture.

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